I was enjoying cookies and milk with my grandmother under her swing shed when my aunt, who lived next door, came running into the yard, screaming and bawling. I was eight years old and had never seen anyone cry so hard or so much.
“What’s wrong,” my grandmother asked, running to her.
“It’s B-B-Bobby,” my aunt said amid sobs.
My grandmother pulled her sister close. “What happened, Audrey?”
“He’s dead.” She dabbed her eyes with a wad of mascara-stained tissues. “Somebody shot him . . . I just can’t believe it!”
I watched the two women I loved more than anything bawling their eyes out and knew what I had to do. So I fought back the tears and headed home.
Mom was in the kitchen as I walked in. I knew the news would devastate her but I didn’t want her to hear it from anyone else. She had to know, and I had to tell her.
“What’s wrong, Honey?” she asked, moving closer.
I realized tears were welling in my eyes and tried to wipe them with my shirtsleeve. I wanted to speak calmly but fought back the torrent building inside me. My chin quivered just thinking how much this was going to hurt the most important person in my life.
“Bobby’s dead!” The words erupted from me with forceful sobs. “He was shot--” That’s all I could get out. I laid my head on her shoulder, crying harder than my grandmother and aunt put together.
“I don’t know.” I looked up at Mom, noticing she was not crying at all. “Mamaw and Aunt Audrey were talking about him.”
Mom picked up the telephone. I knew she was calling my grandmother. And I just knew when she heard Mamaw tell her the story she would break down. I was ready for it. I tried to prepare myself for it, waiting for her tears.
As I watched my mother talk, I saw her deliberately trying to hide a smile. How heartless could she be? Bobby was dead. Someone shot him! And she finds this amusing?
“Michael, I need to tell you something,” she said, hanging up the phone. “Bobby is a character from a soap opera your grandmother and aunt watch every day.”
My New Year resolution is to create characters the reader can relate with . . . characters the reader actually cares about . . . characters, well, like Bobby.
. . . oh, and to also make old women cry.
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